The number of buyers who agreed to purchase previously occupied homes fell sharply in January, a sign that demand for housing is sinking this winter, especially after stormy weather hit much of the country.
The National Association of Realtors says its seasonally adjusted index of sales agreements fell 7.6 percent from December to a January reading of 90.4. It was the lowest reading since last April.
Economists surveyed by Thomson Reuters had expected the index would rise to 97.6. The index is considered a barometer for future sales because typically there is a one- to two- month lag between a signed sales contract and a completed deal. A reading of 100 is equal to the average level of sales activity in 2001, when the index started.
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